Heart & Hustle: Andy Hawkins and his inspiring relationship with Goodwill Industries of Central Florida

Posted on February 2, 2018

It’s easy to get Andy Hawkins talking about Goodwill. He’s got a contagious energy about his clients, but it’s obvious that this one holds a special place in his heart. He describes the organization as one with intentional, mission-driven momentum that seems to be partially fueled by a thoughtful real estate strategy over the past few years. Goodwill Industries of Central Florida currently owns 28 Retail Stores and 27 Donation Xpress Centers throughout its 6-county territory, and Andy and his retail-partner-in-crime, Brett Hartung assist them with up to four new locations every year. “The things we do on the real estate side make a real difference in our community–for people we’ll never see or ever know about–their lives are completely transformed by Goodwill,” said Andy.

Goodwill’s mission to sustainably change lives through work pushes them way beyond just retail. The tools and services that Goodwill provides in their on-campus Job Connection Centers prepare and connect people with meaningful work. Donations and retail revenues fund their job training and career development services, which support many veterans and people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. In 2016, over 49,000 people used free services at a Central Florida Job Connection Center and over 8,500 people were placed to jobs in the community.

For Andy, the most striking behind-the-scenes piece of Goodwill’s work is their high school program, Compass. Kids who are failing out or kicked out of school can attend an Orange County Public School program run from classrooms in Goodwill Headquarters. Goodwill provides a one-on-one opportunity for students to get back on track academically, as well as work-study programs and technical job training. It’s all rooted in their mission to build lives that work.

Andy was introduced to Goodwill six years ago through a somewhat serendipitous meeting at CNL da Vinci Center orchestrated by Nick McKinney. Goodwill Industries of Central Florida CEO, Bill Oakley, had been at the helm for two years and was ready to start transitioning the organization toward a renewed vision. Andy thinks that half-day da Vinci session was a pivotal moment for the nonprofit, where key Goodwill leadership and a few Foundry associates met to strategize and dream. At the time, Goodwill was hitting $25 million in annual revenue. Plotting a trajectory for the next 10 years, Bill envisioned a $100 million campaign. To achieve it, Goodwill’s leadership reimagined every piece of their organization, including prioritizing new donor and retail locations. 
Today, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida is the second largest nonprofit in Central Florida. It has doubled its revenue in the last five years to over $55 million. Their fast-growing retail footprint paired with a new, contemporary storefront design has transformed the nonprofit’s reputation in the Central Florida market.

When Andy was first introduced to Goodwill, the organization was experimenting with two contemporary retail concepts. These capital-intensive undertakings left behind the assumption that thrift stores only belonged in Class-C shopping centers. Designed by Kelly Kleppen of KLPN Studio, the contemporary Goodwill model was designed specifically for Class-A centers. These new thrift locations were intended to create broader donation and revenue streams, attracting higher quality donations while maintaining convenience for old and new customer bases. The contemporary store design has now become Goodwill’s standard, transforming the brand among shoppers and landlords throughout Central Florida as it constantly expands its retail footprint.
This growth has created logistical challenges for Goodwill’s main campus. In a converted department store just 20 minutes from Foundry’s Orlando office, Goodwill Headquarters runs their Orange County high school Compass, a child literacy program, a Job Connection Center and an Internet sales department. Online sales are the fastest growing segment of their business (through multiple aliases on websites like Amazon, Goodwill International is the largest reseller of used books in the country). In addition to expanding warehouse requirements, Goodwill Headquarters is also home to one of its retail stores, an outlet store, conference centers, and operational and executive offices.
 
“The idea was all the Goodwill team,” Andy recalls. Goodwill needed space and Foundry had it. Foundry’s new Class-A industrial park, Crews Commerce Center, is located just down SR 441 from Goodwill Headquarters. In November 2017 Goodwill leased the entire Crews 1030 Building (108,188 SF) and started moving most of their operational space to the new site that they’ve appropriately dubbed “The Hub.” The park’s location provides excellent regional reach among their 6-county territory, at the confluence of the Beachline Expressway, Florida’s Turnpike, and SR 441. As a first-generation space, Crews Commerce Center also met Goodwill’s standards for a retail outlet location. Andy attributes Foundry and Principal Financial Group’s aggressive courting of Goodwill as another reason that Crews became an easy answer to their growing pains.
 
Perhaps part of the necessity for this big move can be traced back to that da Vinci session, where the investment in growth all started. Andy says Goodwill never would have envisioned needing the space had they not seen the upward trend in returns in recent years. The momentum is encouraging considering the life-changing work that Goodwill facilitates in Central Florida every day.
How can the Foundry Family share Andy’s heart for Goodwill? Donate your gently used items. The organization is completely donation-driven. (In 2016 they processed over 1.1 million donations in the Central Florida region alone!)